Pentecost

From Anthroposophy

Pentecost or Whitsun is a Christian festival on 31st of May, and symbolizes the outpouring of the Spirit into Man, the becoming conscious of the human spirit, the highest goal of humanity. In that sense it belongs together with Easter.

The picture of Pentecast, the sending of the Holy Spirit, is the permeation of the human spirit-and-soul, the I and astral body, with the power to understand the Mystery of Golgotha. It also symbolizes the possibility of imbuing Man's inner nature of spirit-and-soul with the Christ Impulse.

aspects for study

Illustrations

Lecture coverage and references

There are some 10 RSL lectures about Pentecost with references listed below.

1905-06-05-GA093 (in evo) is key lecture, it covers:

Link Pentecost with Luciferic Principle – festival of Prometheus and freedom

When the sun separated itself from the earth, the Word became entombed in the earth. It will be resurrected again when the earth has advanced as far as the Sixth epoch. Man will raise this Word from the dead, out of the earth; but first the spirit must live in him that will enable the Word to strike a chord in him. This was attained by the apostles at Pentecost.

In Light on the Path we find the words: ‘Acquire knowledge and you will have speech.’ Speech comes with true knowledge, which descends like the tongues of fire on the apostles at holy Pentecost.

When the inner Word comes, that is akin to the holy divine Word, and that sinks down into everything etheric, so as to make it come alive, then man will no longer speak out of himself but out of the divine Spirit. He is then the messenger of the Godhead and proclaims the inner Word of Godhead of his own free will.

Thus did the inner Word become alive in the apostles; thus did it spread its influence outwards from them. They proclaimed the fiery Word and were aware of their role as the messengers of the Godhead. Therefore the Holy Spirit hovered over them in the form of fiery tongues. They prepare humanity to receive the Logos. The great initiate, Christ Jesus, went on in advance. The Holy Spirit followed, fertilising the astral bodies so that they would become ripe for making their etheric bodies immortal. Once this has happened, then the Christ Principle will be drawn into humanity. This is what the initiates too had in mind when they said, somewhat as Heraclitus did: If, in escaping from the earthly, you ascend to free ether, with faith in immortality, you become an immortal spirit, free of death and of the physical.

Every single person will reach this point in the middle of the Sixth epoch. Today man is still vulnerable to death, in that his etheric body has still not attained immortality. Christianity contains the secret of how man can gradually develop himself towards the resurrection of the etheric body. This is where the third great festival is connected with the other two Christian festivals.

.. the Pentecost festival has infinite depths .. Man celebrates Pentecost best by making it clear to himself what deep truths have been implanted in this festival by the wise. And to celebrate a festival really means to unite oneself in spirit with the Cosmic Spirit

1904-05-23-GA093

1908-06-07-GA098

1910-05-15-GA118

1913-10-03-GA148

1915-05-23-GA162

1916-06-06-GA169

1923-05-07-GA224

Whitsun is pre-eminently a festival of flowers. If a man has a true feeling for this Festival he will go out among the buds and blossoms opening under the influence of the sun, under the etheric and astral influences — and he will perceive in the flower-decked earth the earthly image of what flows together in the picture of Christ's Ascension, and the descent of the tongues of fire upon the heads of the disciples which followed later. The heart of man as it opens may be symbolised by the flower opening itself to the sun; and what pours down from the sun, giving the flower the fertilising power it needs, may be symbolised by the tongues of fire descending: upon the heads of the disciples. Anthroposophy can work upon human hearts with the power that streams from an understanding of the festival times and from true contemplation of each festival season; it can help to evoke the mood-of-soul that conforms truly with these days of the Spring festivals

1923-05-17-GAXXX is the lecture on World Pentecost that describes the link with spiritual science (another version of that lecture here). Here follows a shortened/truncated version with the key elements from the flow, and SWCC. This parsing is offered here to lay out the structure of the lecture.

This Mystery of Golgotha was understood very differently at the time in which it took place than was the case later, and in our day it must again be understood in a new way. The right understanding of this Mystery is the mission of Anthroposophy.

1/ The Mystery Schools are described, some 3-4000 years ago, when men had a different consciousness and was more aware about his life in the spiritual world before incarnation. There was a connection of soul-warmth in the devotion of men and their Sun worship which was quite customary then (ceremonies are described). It gave Man a knowledge of his immortality, through this connection with the spiritual worlds.

Every man was then aware that he had within him a soul and spirit-being that was sent down into earthly existence by divine powers. Men's consciousness of death was also entirely different at that time, and because they could look back in memory to a spiritual existence before life on earth, they also knew that that part of them which had lived before their life on earth continued after death.

..

Man looked on the sun as the greatest of all the stars, and of all the Beings belonging to the sun he called the greatest the great Sun-Spirit.

In the Mysteries men learnt that before they came to earth the great Sun Being gave to them the power by which they were able to enter the starry world again in the right way after death.The pupils of the Mysteries were told, and these repeated it again to others: It is the spiritual power of the Sun, the spiritual light which carries you beyond death, and this power you brought with you when at birth you entered earthly existence. Many prayers, many exalted teachings, came from the teachers in the Mysteries; and these were all in praise, in glorification, of the high Sun-Being, and gave instruction concerning Him.

Teachers in the Mysteries instructed their pupils, and these in turn told the rest of humanity that when man passed through the gate of death, he had first to penetrate the lower sphere of the stars and to meet with the lower Beings of the stars, and that then he might penetrate to the Sun. He could not, however, go beyond the Sun if the power of the Sun-Being was not given to him.

...

It was known to the initiated priests of the Mysteries that the great Sun-Being of whom they spoke to believers was the same Being of whom men would speak at a later day as the Christ. Before the time of the mystery of Golgotha people were told if they desired knowledge of the Christ that they must not seek Him on earth, but must rise to the Mysteries of the Sun, for only beyond the earth were the Mysteries of the Christ to be found.

It was comparatively easy for men to accept such a teaching, because they retained an instinctive recollection of the kingdom of Christ from which they had descended to earth.

..

When man is passing through death he goes forth into starry spaces and gradually comes to a place where he sees the stars from the other side: it is not seen as a physical globe but as a realm of Spiritual Beings. Before the MoG had taken place men beheld the Christ in the sun; they beheld Him from the other side in the time between death and birth.

In ancient times before MoG, the instructors in the Mysteries were able to recall this aspect of the Christ to their pupils; they were able to arouse in them the conception of what they had seen before they came to earth how they had seen the Sun from the other side.

2/ Mankind lost this consciousness and memory of pre-earthly spiritual life, and 800 BC only very few people had still kept such knowledge. Teachers could not arouse the same in men, and this is where the fear of death really arose and had a major impact on the experience of fate of humanity and its immortality. 3/ Then the MoG came, it is described that up to then only Man had this experience of death:

All those beings that are higher than man, the Angels, Archangels, Archai, etc., up to the most exalted of the divine Beings in the spiritual world, experience metamorphosis only. They are not born, neither do they die. Thus it was said in the Mysteries: Man alone knows birth and death. The Gods do not know death, they only know metamorphosis.

As men were no longer able to reach up to the Christ, the Christ came to them on the earth. Because of this it was necessary that as God He should experience that which Gods had never experienced before — birth and death. Christ in the soul of a man, Jesus of Nazareth, experienced birth and death. This means: For the first time a God passed through human death.

The most essential thing in the Mystery of Golgotha is that it is not merely something that concerns humanity; it is also a concern of the Gods. The Gods decreed: One of us, the high Sun-spirit Himself, has to unite His destiny so closely with that of mankind that He must pass through birth and death.

and that few people at the time of the MoG realized that Christ was that same Sun spirit who had come down to earth. 4/ However upto the 4th century the knowledge still existed.

Up to the fourth century after Christ it was always known that the Christ Who was the great Sun-Spirit and the Christ Who dwelt in Jesus of Nazareth were the same. This was known until the fourth century. Our feelings are profoundly stirred when, by means of Spiritual Science, we are able to hear how the men of the early Christian centuries prayed: Thanks be to the Christ for having come down to us on earth from spiritual worlds, otherwise we would have been separated from Him.

5/ From the 4th century onwards the situation changed dramatically.

After the fourth century had passed people were no longer able to grasp the fact that the high Sun-Being and also the Christ was that same Divinity Who secures immortality to us as men. From the fourth century until our own age men had only the external words of the Gospels, which relate historically that the Mystery of Golgotha had indeed taken place, but the effect of the words of the Gospels still worked so powerfully throughout the centuries that through them men were able to unite their hearts with that great event.

6/ And this has persisted and grown worse with the advent of natural science from the 15th century onwards.

We confront an age to-day, however, in which men, having learned so much of the secrets of nature, would have become entirely estranged from the words of the Gospels if a new path to the Christ had not been opened up.

7/ Now spiritual science is introduced as a new and necessary path, and beautiful descriptions follows to 'live ourselves into' again what truly happened.

Anthroposophy has facilitated the entrance of men on this path by leading them back to a knowledge of the spiritual world.

For the Christ event, let me tell you, is only to be comprehended spiritually — as a spiritual fact. Those who do not understand the Christ event as a spiritual fact do not in any way understand it.

By means of Anthroposophical knowledge we can carry ourselves back to the times when Jesus Christ walked in Palestine and experienced His earthly destiny.

Now is a pivotal turning point in this lecture, as Steiner now maps what happened to humanity (as described above), to the rhythm and main festivals in the Christian year. 8/ Sorrow of loss enters .. and this suffering phase is pivotal:

The power that came to the Disciples and Apostles when the Christ appeared to them in His spiritual body in order to teach them was gradually lost to them. A time came in the lives of these men when they said: We have beheld Him, and now behold Him no more. He came down to us from heaven to earth. Where is He gone?

This point of time when the Disciples believed that they had lost the presence of the Christ is preserved for us in the festival of the Ascension. In the consciousness of the Disciples the fact was registered that the high Sun-Spirit Who had walked the earth as Jesus of Nazareth had once more withdrawn from them. When they experienced this a sorrow came over them with which no sorrow that is experienced on earth can be compared.

In the olden Mysteries, during the celebration of the Sun-Cult, when the image of the God was laid within the earth in order that in three days it might be raised again, great sorrow for the God was felt in the souls of those who took part in the celebrations.

.. and the importance of suffering is described, as it gives birth to something higher. See also Christ Module 4 - Mystery of the Blood where this is described in detail; how suffering is a process of destruction of the lower by the side of a creating process of the higher (1906-11-08-GA055)

All truly great knowledge, my dear friends, is born out of sorrow and pain. When by those means of knowledge, which Anthroposophical Spiritual Science describes, an entrance into the higher worlds is sought, the goal can only be reached by passing through pain. Without having suffered, suffered much, and through suffering become free from the depression of pain, one cannot know the spiritual world. During the time indicated by the ten days following the Ascension the Disciples suffered dreadfully, for the Christ was withdrawn from their sight. And out of this infinite pain and sadness sprang that which we know as Pentecost. After that the Christ had been lost to their outward instinctive clairvoyance, the Disciples found Him again, through suffering and sorrow, in their inner being, in their perceptions and inner experiences.

and this suffering can and has to be extended, and Steiner compares apostle Paul's initial fight against Christianity with what we see in the world of materialistic mineral science today.

Men would have believed more and more only in the existence of material things. They would have said: The Sun is a material thing; the stars are material also. For mankind had utterly forgotten that they themselves had sprung from a pre-earthly existence, from the spiritual realm of the stars. Such a materialistic type of thought as asserts “all is matter,” can endure only for a time. If, for instance, all men for a hundred years were to believe that everything was only matter they would lose the inner power of the spirit within them; they would become as if crippled — as if ill.

9/ From this contextual perspective, of the current materialistic worldview, is describes that one should not look at Christianity as the religion we see in the Western world today, as contrasted with other religions in other cultures and regions on earth. True Christianity can not be exoteric (as in religions, or what is told by missionaries) but can only be esoteric Christianity hence spiritual science.

.. in the future what we call knowledge will be much more important for humanity than has been the case until now. The necessity will arise ever more and more in human evolution that men should acquire a certain knowledge of spiritual Beings, and of spiritual life.

Such a knowledge, as will lead all men to the spiritual world, is the goal towards which Anthroposophical investigation strives.

.. with the help of Spiritual Science, we are able to see in the Mystery of Pentecost that the Mystery of Golgotha had taken the place of the ancient Sun-Myth Mystery.

Through this knowledge, the Christ can again be known, but in such a manner that when anyone has true Anthroposophy he will be able to represent the Christ in a way that will be comprehensible to all men.

and it is described how the Sun shines for everyone on earth, and this affects every human being on Earth, irrespective of culture or belief. In other words, it is unifying. 10/ And here follows the strong statement:

Anthroposophy seeks to show that the Being who

  • before the Mystery of Golgotha could only be reached by instinctive super-sensible faculties
  • can since that event be reached by the powers of understanding, which can be developed by man on the earth itself.

..

What the Disciples experienced as the Mystery of Pentecost will be experienced ever anew. People will feel that the Christ Himself has come down to earth — a power is dawning in our hearts, they will say, that assures immortality to man.

as anthroposophy or spiritual science is elaborated upon

We must also learn through Spiritual Science to see spirit in everything material, spirit behind the solid stone, the plant, and man; spirit behind the clouds and the stars, spirit behind the sun. When through the substance we find the spirit in its reality, we also open our human soul to the voice of Christ, Who speaks to us if we will but hear Him. Anthroposophy can tell of the spirit behind all nature.

Hence it also ventures to speak of spirit in all the historical earthly events of humanity, and of how the earth first acquired “meaning” through the Mystery of Golgotha. That which imparted meaning to the earth before the Mystery of Golgotha was on the sun, since that time it has been united with the earth itself.

Anthroposophy presents this to humanity as an everlasting Pentecostal mystery, and when, prepared by Anthroposophy, men again seek out the spiritual world, they will find it in a way that is needful for the present age, and they will also truly find the Christ as ever present with them. If in this age men do not turn to spiritual knowledge the Christ will be lost to them.

Up till now Christianity did not lay stress on understanding. Christ died for all men; He did not disown them. If men reject Him to-day with their understanding, their intelligence — then they disown the Christ.

..

People often speak of Anthroposophy as if it were an enemy of Christianity. If you really enter into the spirit of Anthroposophy you will find that precisely what it does do is to open the ears, the hearts, the souls of men once more to the Mystery of Christ.

We might indeed consider the destiny of Anthroposophy to be the same as that of Christianity; for this, however, it is necessary that men should not at the present day merely look towards the dead words that tell of the Christ, but that they turn to a knowledge which leads them to the light in which the living Christ Himself dwells, looking not to the historic Christ Who lived on earth some hundreds of years ago, but to the living Christ, Who now, and in all future times, lives among men on earth, because from their God He has become their divine Brother.

.. through Anthroposophy we desire to seek the way to the living Christ. Let us feel that in each Anthroposophist the mystery of the first Pentecost may be renewed — that the knowledge of the Christ may dawn in his heart, that he may feel himself enwarmed and enlightened through the flaming tongues of universal Christ-like knowledge.

May our way to that which is spiritual, through Anthroposophy, be at the same time our way to Christ through the Spirit.

If a handful of men earnestly make this knowledge their own, the Mystery of Pentecost will take root ever more firmly among them at the present time and still more so in the future.

Then that will come which is so badly required for the healing and health of humanity, then it will be possible for the Spirit to speak to a new human understanding, the Spirit that heals the sickness of the souls of men — the Spirit sent by Christ. Then will come that of which humanity has so great a need — the Pentecost of the World.

1924-06-04-GA236

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